WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The following can be attributed to U.S. Representative Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Chairman, House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, regarding the Bush Administration's plan for consumer converter boxes for the digital TV transition:

"Keeping the government and affected industries on target for the February 2009 transition date is a goal widely shared.  The Bush Administration, however, appears to have unwittingly restored a fuzzy picture to the digital TV transition. 

“The Administration today proposed its coupon plan for consumer converter boxes, which consumers of free over-the-air television will utilize to purchase boxes enabling the viewing of digital television signals on their current TV analog sets after the February 2009 conversion date.  The proposed plan, however, arbitrarily limits consumer eligibility for the program after the first $990 million is spent.  This is likely to increase consumer confusion about who is eligible for coupons and when they are eligible.  The Administration is evidently limiting the program in this way because of concern that sufficient funding to cover all consumers who need boxes may not be available.  Last year, the Administration opposed efforts by Full Committee Chairman John Dingell (D-MI) and myself that would have removed this concern by ensuring adequate funding for the program.  The Telecommunications and Internet Subcommittee intends to review this and other aspects of the Administration's plan in upcoming hearings to ensure that consumer welfare is adequately protected and that the digital TV transition remains on track."

March 9, 2007

CONTACT: Vikrum Aiyer
David Moulton